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Published March 18, 2010, 09:19 AM

Judge: Calif. illegally approved ‘water bank’

FRESNO, Calif. — An Alameda County judge has ruled that California water managers violated state environmental laws when they set up a water bank to store up supplies during last year’s drought.

FRESNO, Calif. — An Alameda County judge has ruled that California water managers violated state environmental laws when they set up a water bank to store up supplies during last year’s drought.

The California Department of Water Resources set up the bank intending to ship water from farms north of Sacramento to growers in drought-stricken areas including the San Joaquin Valley.

Environmental and sportfishing groups sued, saying even though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a drought emergency, the state still had to comply with provisions in the California Environmental Quality Act.

Superior Court Judge Alice Vilardi ruled Monday that Schwarzenegger and DWR illegally approved the bank by exempting its water transfers from state environmental review. The department did not immediately provide comment.

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